N. Carolina ban on Down syndrome abortions goes to governor

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during a briefing at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during a briefing at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP) (2020, The News & Observer)

RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina senators approved a bill on Thursday to bar women from getting abortions on the basis of race, sex or a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

With the Senate's party-line vote, the prohibition Republicans are seeking now heads to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who is likely to veto it, having rejected previous anti-abortion restrictions.

Abortion rights groups say the GOP-led bill, which was universally opposed by Senate Democrats and supported by only six Democratic House lawmakers, would prevent women from having open conversations with their doctors and deny their constitutional right to an abortion.

Abortions on the basis of sex selection are already prohibited in North Carolina. House Bill 453, approved in the Senate by a vote of 27-20, would expand and strengthen the existing law by requiring physicians to report, with a signed confirmation, that an abortion was not desired due to sex, race or the likelihood of being born with Down syndrome.

Republican proponents say prenatal tests that confirm the presence of Down syndrome can sometimes be inaccurate, prompting women who wouldn't otherwise do so to terminate their pregnancy. Sen. Joyce Krawiec, a Forsyth County Republican, said the measure prevents discrimination and “modern-day eugenics."

“Children should not have to pass a genetic test to earn the right to be born," Krawiec said.

The conservative North Carolina Values Coalition supports the bill.

Cooper can veto the bill or sign it. The measure will become law if he declines to act within 10 days of receiving it, but even then, it's certain to be challenged in court.